Travelling the World With A Jamaican Passport
How I Got Started
This is something I have always wanted to do.
Based on on-going questions flooding my inboxes, I have decided to do a personal blog post every month. I figure this will help my readers understand me better as a person and as a Jamaican wandering the globe.
I will first start off with what it is like travelling with a Jamaican passport.
After years of applying for visas and rejections after rejections; I’ve been denied access to countries I only wanted to travel to just for a few days or weeks.
However, I now live by the motto: “No “first world” passport, no problem.”
In 2012, I went on my very first solo trip to Ecuador(visa-free country) as a solo traveller. I am so excited to return, to relive the memories of when I was once a “newbie” to the travelling world.
The World Up Closer
If you were suppose to come across any of my close friends, they’ll tell you that travelling the world has always been something I have always wanted to do. I have always thought about doing this, but like most Jamaicans and holders of “third world“, passports I feared the restrictions in regards to visas and border controls. I speak for most Jamaicans, as I ever so often receive messages via emails, Instagram direct messages and facebook messages), stating the above.
For me personally, I doubted the fact that travelling the world would ever be possible. I felt as if it would be a “dream” that would never come alive.
Now, year 2016 my passion and strength has allowed me to bred life to The World Up Closer, in which I hope to inspire others to go beyond
and not to be afraid of rejections.
The Story Behind The World Up Closer
After my first couple stamps and now having almost completed my first passport, The World Up Closer is a way for me to share and inspire others of what it is like to travel on a “third world” passport. This is also a job that I now do full-time. Partnering with companies to travel the world as never felt so good. From airlines, to tourism boards, to hotels, to travel-related brands…. I am doing this with a Jamaican Passport and I have never felt prouder about this choice/decision.
Based on most of the messages I have received, readers/supporters really question if I am truly Jamaican.. “Are you really travelling with a Jamaican passport?”.. “Do you really get visas to travel to all these places?”
These are voices echoing in the back of my mind that my people really do think that this is impossible to do with a Jamaican passport. The answer is yes; it is always yes.
Whenever I decide to travel to a country that requires a visa, I get no special treatment. I have to book an appointment, pay the required fee and then wait for the result of the interview.. whatever that may be.
How I Travel The World with A Jamaican Passport
I will be completely truthful, and often times we do not want to hear the truth. Jamaican Nationals can travel to 77 countries visa free, including places like South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, all of which I have already visited without any issues at all, except for S.A which is coming up soon. The locals from these countries could not get over the fact that I am truly Jamaican. In fact, they are usually really interested to hear about Jamaica.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to stop limiting myself to countries that we all think are the ‘ideal’ ones to visit. I think being Jamaican myself, I can safely say that most Jamaicans only think of visiting the norms.
Here’s how it can be easier:
- Try not to be so consumed with the countries we are ‘used’ to; UK, USA, Canada for example. Other countries exist. I say “we” because these countries were once all I could think about too and probably what had fueled my decision to study in New York. I figured if I were suppose to study in a “first world’ country then that would give me some possibilities to travel more freely.
- Scan through the 77 countries, try to visit one per year. It is pretty easy to visit these countries without a hassle. All you need is your passport and a plane ticket.
- Your passport is like your resume to getting visas. If you first travel to visa-free countries, then it will be easier to get visas for countries that requires it. I no longer have ‘visa fears’. I now have over 80 visa stamps in my passport and embassies like to see that; most of which are from visa-free counties. Along with the visa stamps I also have 8 actual visas that I had to apply for in person. Soon, I will need a new passport and not because it is expired but because it is almost completely packed. I smile thinking about this.
- In the past, I’ve been turned down for visas so many times, however, I do not get discouraged; there are 191 other countries in the world. I rumble about the disappointment to my mother for 30 minutes then start planning for somewhere new. If you’ve had a visa application turned down before, flip the page and start looking at somewhere new. Also, please do not hesitate to ask for suggestions via emails.
- Good suggestions for visa free countries: the Caribbean islands, Ecuador, Colombia, Perú, Chile, Argentina.. Just to name a few.
Currently in Northern Europe
At the moment, I am currently doing a road trip around Iceland. This has been a dream country for me since I was a child.
I am so excited to share the blog posts, photos and videos I am currently preparing. In the mean time, here is a personal story before landing in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Personal story: I am currently travelling in Iceland
Iceland has always been a childhood dream. I’ve always wanted to know what the “Northern Lights” are all about, stand on a black sand beach and see it’s landscape since this country was once/still is a volcanic den.
Over the years, I have watched documentaries, read articles, looked at photos, heard other travellers/bloggers talk about it and have talked about this country like no other, ask my sister..I was fascinated.
Though, any country that requires a visa always has it’s hiccups. You know, travelling with a Jamaican passport and as a minority isn’t always the easiest; though a nationality I am absolutely proud of.
Paper work after paperwork and assumptions; it gets me every time. However, my goal is not for this to look easy, but possible.
Tonight or yesterday, (we are on different time zones depending on where you are) flying into Reykjavik I decided I would sleep my way through to rid myself of a jet lag. But, somewhere throughout the flight one of Stewardesses quickly fully turned off the lights in the cabin and I could hear the Captain telling us to look over on our left. First of all, for me, a window seat is necessary, I have to take it all in — no matter the distance, the location or the time of day…. but back to the Captain….. so we looked over to our left and it was the “Northern Lights” from 42,000ft possible from flying over Southern tip of Greenland or Northern Canada. Here, my friends, the childhood “Dream” has come alive!
Schengen Visa (EU Europe)
This is my second European (Schengen) visa that arrived 2 days before my flight and one that had the Jamaica consulate in New York. Meaning, if my fellow Jamaicans would like to visit Iceland, they would have to go and apply for a visa in New York City! (Still trying to process this). As for Jamaican citizens, we are already required to have a visa for the USA. This process can be quite tricky for travellers who would like to visit the Schengen state. Once again, my goal here is not for this to look easy, but possible. I intend to give my Jamaican passport power.
For all the lovely messages, questions in my inbox and across the board it’s quite difficult to get to everyone. Thank you though and I hope I’m able to answer your question/s via a blog/Instagram post.
For those who think I really do not apply for visas, you have no idea the work I have to put in, as well as the weight I bring upon my very concerned Mother.
Here’s to 15 days of not sleeping in Iceland, hey I do not want to miss anything. The visa didn’t come easy, neither did the chance of booking a job here. I now independently work as a travel blogger. Yes, companies actually pay me to do travel-related jobs; dream job if you ask me.
To breaking barriers, stereotypes, assumptions and beyond. Here’s to being Black, from the Caribbean and making dreams come through worldwide.
I encourage you to do the same.
See my adventures live in action on my Instagram Account
I’m Alicia from Ocho Rios, St. Ann Jamaica. Haven’t seen you post in a long while and wouldn’t mind to see what new blogs you have to such us.
I’m planning on visiting a country this year. Just have to put my funds together and select one of the countries cause it will be my first time traveling.
Continue to do your thing, you really inspire me as a Jamaican.
My partner is Jamaican living in the UK. We want to go to Cuba will he need a visa to travel?
I know we are going to get a travel card but will he need an extra visa?
He has indefinite leave to remain
I will be traveling to Cuba in January 2019. I checked with nomads insurance online but unfortunately they don’t process Cuban travel insurance anymore. Where else can I get this done?
Peggy @ JamVac
Very interesting info, Shea. I never knew we could travel visa free to those countries. I would love to visit somewhere like Ecuador, for example, but never knew it could be so easy (entry). As you said, we have been cultured to think only about US, Canada and the UK exist but the world is much bigger than that.
I’m also like you, travelling the world, but with my family. I’m Jamaican which means I have restrictions. My husband and child don’t. I’m in Panama City, Central America and I’ve bought tickets for Iceland thinking it would be easy to get a visa, since I had no trouble with the US, Candian or any visa that I had to get. However, it’s a problem and we leave for Iceland in a mont. Nobody can help me. I’ve asked my mother to contact the German Embassy in Kingston to see what they say.
Is the other alternative going to New York? I hope not.
i WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR INPUT ON THIS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
You must apply for your European Schengen Visa in your country of residence. If you’re only going to be visiting Iceland your application must be submitted in the Embassy of Iceland in Ottawa, Canada.
If you’re visiting Iceland and another Schengen country you apply for your visa in the country you’ll be spending the most amount of days in.
If you’re visiting Iceland and other European Schengen countries but spending the same amount of days in all of them then you must apply for your visa in the country you’ll first enter.
Since you currently live in Panama I would highly suggest you mix your Iceland trip with a euro country that has a consulate in Panama and you have no need to travel simply to apply for your visa.
Spain, France,Poland, Germany,Italy, all have consulates in Panama City
so I suggest you do a trip lets say 3 days in France and 3 in Iceland….a Visa for any of these countries is also valid for Iceland
So happy to hear you’ll be visiting Iceland in a few. Let me answer this quickly. When I applied for my Schengen visa in 2016 particular for Iceland, I had to do so at the Consulate that represents the Caribbean in NYC. This was because they didn’t have the Biometric system here in Jamaica so I was allowed to apply outside of my home country, (Jamaica)
In other words, you have to apply in your home country. Just in May of this year, I applied for another Schengen at the German Embassy in Kingston, I quickly learned the good news, the German Embassy now processes visas for Iceland.
Though, there is another alternative. If you are a resident of Panama you should be allowed to allow there.
Schengen is Schengen. Get a visa from the Belgian or German consulate, then take an EU-internal flight.
Hi Shea , you are an inspiration. You’re totally living my dream n I’m so happy for you too!! I want to start doing the same tired of just traveling to USA. Tell more about blogging n earning while you travel
Shea, so grateful for your blog. My boyfriend is Jamaican and I am planning a trip for both of us to a country he can get into without a visa. I was wondering what you do about travel insurance as I’m not sure if I can put him on my english travel insurance or if he can get the insurance from Jamaica. Thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂
Thank you so much for your posts. I am pretty sure there are other ways in getting the Schengen visa. I was just directed to the one in NYC with no explanation what so ever. Applying for another Schengen in early next year and will do so in Kingston.
Hi Shea, totally inspired. Like you my dream has always been to travel. I’m thinking of going to Northern Europe myself but I want it to go in the winter. Any tips for a Jamaican travelling in winter? My closest experience is 15 degree weather in Belgium.
Hi Shea. Have you been to Bali? It’s on my bucket list and I would love to hear reviews.
Hi, not yet! But it’s on my schedule for early next year. I am so excited to visit and to share the experience.. 🙂
What about St. Vincent and Dominica? They are on my list for next year. You have inspired me.
THis is truthful
OMG Shea… My family is living with this stigma..”if you have a JA passport it doesn’t even make sense to travel”, and its been this way for more than a decade. My husband is Jamaican passport holder and strongly feels this way. I am British living in Jamaica all my adult life, our children are Jamaican British but the challenge is our family has NEVER traveled together and I am desperate for a vacation experience that we can all enjoy.
USA, visa disappointments x10, is not the end of my husbands dreams to see the world. I’ll be sharing your blog the minute he comes home and remind him of the trip to Barbados I’ve be coaxing him into taking next year. With a whopping 77 countries to choose from I BELIEVE the world is our oyster! Bless you for bringing light to a dark situation, which when you really look at it, is just a shadow.
By the way, I got an invitation to visit Norway earlier this June and turned it down out of guilt for having a uk passport… Your enjoying the Northern Lights for me too until my hubby and I get there!!
Awesome Shea!!!! Thank you for enlightening us about the power of # ja passport . I too had a dream of travelling the world when I was much younger. I now have 2 daughters , both are holders of an american passport , I still have my #japasport. Since you have awakened my appetite for travelling . I guess I shall make my bucket list and start checking rhem off 1 by one . I absolutely love Ireland , been there only while reading ‘Gone with the wind’ looool! Have you been there yet? How was it? Oh yes SA is at # 3 on my list.
Thanks again dear.
Great post. I love your blog :). There was a point in my life where I wanted to burn my passport because I felt as if I couldn’t go anywhere on a Jamaican passport. Once you get the first visa the rest gets a bit easier. I went to Curacao and Belgium with a Jamaican passport before ever going to the United States !
Great blog Shea! So inspiring. I love to travel too. However, I got sick and tired of the Jamaican passport visa hassle, so I moved to Canada, became a citizen and now have the choice. I tell my children that a Canadian passport is the best at the border, but once you are in the country there’s nothing like being a yardie! But thanks for your perspective on travelling on a JA passport – ha ha – who knows – had I read this article years ago, I might not have moved to Canada!!! (actually, I love it there). Keep exploring and sharing
Hi shea i am also a Jamaican blogger lovely to have found our blog, your an inspiration, if i had the money i would totally start travelling to these places!!
Shea this is truly an inspirational and encouraging to people who would love to travel places other than US, Canada and U.K. I hope one day soon I can enjoy traveling to places I only dream of.
Kerry Ann Leon Chambers
You have been such a great inspiration for me.
This article rings soo close to home for me. I am a Nigerian who lives in the US and travel planning is so tedious. I remember being in India last year for work and I wanted to explore SE asia but all the countries required visa and I had to sit back while all my friends went on weekend trips that were super affordable. Nigeria has even less visa free countries and living in the US those visa free countries, mostly in Africa are expensive to get to.
But even despite al the challenges and struggles I wouldn’t trade any of my rich travel experiences and so I keep going. You are such an inspiration to me and I hope to one day grow my blog as big as you have, and create well curated experiences that inspire others to see the world. You are like my travel sis in my head and I am grateful for you.
Meanwhile you just reminded me that I need to go back to Iceland and see the Northen lights
I’m so inspired that others can see that travelling the world is not only for the rich and famous. I too have traveled to the edges of the earth on a Jamaican passport. It can be done. Be safe in your travels and see the world and all its wonders. I mean it’s so small.
Big up my girl! ! MI like it I looooove to travel too; I hate being in one place for too long and I love experiencing new things! IF it was up to me; I would be travelling every 3 to 6 months or at least once per year but my pocket says no I cant I love that u’ve encouraged our fellow Jamaicans to try “likkle farin” too cuz the majority have a closed mind when it comes to that…if it’s not to US, Canada or UK they give up. My fellow Jamaicans, u’re missing out! Use what u ‘have’ til u get what u want ok . Getting paid while travelling is ok but getting paid to travel is another thing! I wish I’ll get there sometime when I learn how…keep living that dream Shea; the world is ur stage…literally
This is an awesome blog, I feel so happy when my fellow Jamaican make the massive moves! Way to Go Shea 🙂
Braston N. Hall
TRAVELLING ON A JAMAICAN PASSPORT IS A LOT OF FUN. (JAMAICANS) GET A LOT OF RESPECT WORLDWIDE. IT’S VERY SURPRISING. AFRICA (ALL OVER) LOVE US. I KNOW. I’VE TRAVELLED TO 7 AFRICAN COUNTRIES THUS FAR AND HAD A LOT OF FUN AT ALL STOPS.
I am currently looking at ticket prices for my venture onto one of the visa free countries. I’ve only travelled to the US and neighboring Caribbean islands. I can’t wait!
Love this…would love to be paid to travel…any tips you have I would greatlya ppreciate.
Try the beautiful country of Latvia. I was more than welcome there even though there are a handful of black who resides there.
Shea I just want to say thank you, you have just open up my dream, I’m no longer feeling disappointed in myself about nothing and I say thanks again
Amazing! What a way to inspire a nation! Well done and safe travels
Thank you so much Natalie. 🙂
I think my friend mentioned you sometime today (we both have the travel bug!). Its a great medium to not only inform but to inspire which you most certainly have. All the best and safe travels!
Shea PowellLaBella Donna
Labella, thank you for your message. Say hi to your friend for me. I hope she was talking about some good things. Hahaha..
I am pleasantly surprised to see that things have changed for the Australian visa. I had to mail my passport with supporting documents, while my American friends applied online. I also had to wait a month for an answer while my American friends got approval in 15 minutes. You are living my dream, I can’t travel much because of limited time off at work. Enjoy your adventures 🙂
Where r u from in Jamaica? Cause u have my dad’s last name is enjoy reading about u .
Shea PowellCatherine wilson
I’m Catherine.. I’m from Clarendon. 🙂
Wow… I am in awe of you and this blog. Thanks. New subscriber!
Jean you rock! Thank you so much!
Great post. I love your adventurous spirit and the underlying message of making a way (going around, under, over) when an obstacle appears. We are all citizens of this big, wide world anyway. Safe travels!
Hi Shea, it’s nice to read about another Jamaican travelling the world. Undoubtedly this article will inspire others to find the same. I am not sure if I misunderstood your statement re:Jamaican residents getting the Schenghen Visa. To my knowledge they don’t need to go to New York to apply for this visa, they can go to the German Embassy in Jamaica. Happy travels!
I got my schengen visa from the French embassy that was in Jamaica. Now that it’s closed, it’s necessary to go to another member state’s consulate like the Spanish, German or the Belgian embassy. Mind you that, for each embassy certain documents have to be translated into the country’s official language.
Micky SuprêmeSamantha Beckford
Thanks for this update, my Schegen expired and I’m calculating the best consulate to visit to have it renewed. Any suggestions? and Second question, If for example I am in Canada now and wish to visit France, can my Schegen be renewed here?
Thanks for this amazing article so happy to see a fellow Jamaican living their dreams,i am truly inspired to keep pushing and pursue mine.
Inspiring blog..I have a Jamaican passport alongside a European one (Dutch)..Jamaicans should really take advantage of the possibilities for medical treatments in Colombia..
Kadi Eva Bless
That’s one of my dreams to travel the world. The further I have been, is Trelawny and a I live in port more.
Wow I enjoyed your post. I just pray that God continue to abide with you which ever country you visit and continue to enjoy the world for those of us who is not into travelling on that basis. Continue to fly that black green and gold flag high. Love
Can’t wait to see your posts on Iceland! Especially what you packed for the cold lolol I myself will be going God willing the last week of this November with stops to Denmark, Norway and Sweden before I get to Iceland. I’m also Jamaican but am travelling on a US passport for this Euro trip (became a citizen this August)… But it is true our Jamaican passport can go to many places like South America (have been to Peru, Ecuador and Chile) and many countries in Africa. I went last year to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia (we Jamaicans do need a visa for Namibia but it was quite easy as long as you can get to the Namibian embassy in Washington DC). I also tried for a Schengen visa last year as I was travelling with the boyfriend and his family to Africa as they had graciously invited me but alas it was not meant to be… I got shut down so hard at the Greek embassy (I welp!) so I couldn’t join them on the 4-5 day Euro stops before and after Africa After that I was soo determined to apply for US citizenship my girl… But you also inspire me to dream of travelling to other countries that are outside the norm as well. I’m so glad I found you on Instagram☺️
This is extremely awesome I swear, I just started my travel experiences when I got my US visa 2 years ago. Went to Panama and Colombia a month ago and my Sous Chef has invited me to take a trip to his home town in Argentina. I am currently working in Michigan but my journey has just begun and reading your blog has opened my eyes a bit wider. Thank you so much.
Edmarine BakerJohn Comrie
Hello Shea! I enjoyed reading this article and could feel the excitement building up as you talk about your many trips and to countries that we Jamaicans don’t need a visa to visit and others. I once worked with some Icelandic expatriates based in Jamaica (they loved it so much there) and it was never interested in going there but reading your blog now has my interest going. I love to travel to the not so popular first world countries myself, Africa being my favorite to date. The next time you’re going that side I must invite you to visit beautiful Tanzania, omg that country is beautiful and the people are one of the friendliest & humble set of people, Zanzibar is must visit as well). I’m also proud to travel with my Jamaican passport. We are a proud nation!!! Enjoy your travels!!
Beautiful blog. Enjoy my sister. This is one of the things I have always intended to do- travel the world. Travelling is such a beautiful thing.
Shea, I’m extremely proud of your achievements. You are enjoying what you love to do so continue to explore the world and share with us. All the best in your future endeavors.
Shea PowellRose Peters
Mrs. Peters… I am so not accustomed you call calling me “Shea”.. Hahahah..
Thanks so much. See you when I am home. 🙂
I admire that you are doing this! I also dream of traveling the world but can never seem to find the right company. I have thought of solo traveling but thought it was just not done by females. Would welcome some pointers in that regard.
Latoya Wakefield - Author
Great post!Keep living the dream
Shea PowellLatoya Wakefield – Author
Thank you so much Latoya! 🙂
This is a lovely post. Your blog is awesome. I share your passion for travelling and coincidentally will be travelling to Germany via Iceland in December. I have a few questions. Though this is not my first time travelling to Germany, it would be the first time travelling through this route. I acquired my Schengen visa in Jamaica, however I have to be in America for a few days before my trip to Germany hence this route. Is it ok for me to book one way tickets through different airlines to get to my destinations? For example, (I want to fly one way to America, leave from America via Iceland to Germany and then back to Jamaica from Germany) will I have any trouble this way? I would show my documents to prove ongoing travel at immigration.
Thank you so much for you message. I had this very same issue when I was applying for my Schengen visa for Iceland. They wanted me to have a route trip ticket from the US back to Jamaica as I originally boarded the plane in DC. Booking the one way ticket to Germany via Iceland is fine. They only really do care that you have an exit ticket back to your country, in which you do from Germany. Just be prepared to show your exist ticket if you are being asked at any point in time. Otherwise, you should be fine.
Enjoy Germany, I am so excited to visit next year! 🙂
Thanks so much for your response and wishes. I will be boarding from DC too. I will be sure to have all my tickets at hand to show if and when asked. Continue to enjoy your trips and I am sure you will enjoy Germany next year :).
If I could like this post more than once, I would.
Thanks so much for checking out this post Shaniece (:
Thank you so much for this information. This is truly helpful.
Shea PowellDane Wright
No problem, Dane. All the best! 🙂
You are such an inspiration. I am taking you up on this advice. I cannot wait to travel with my Jamaican passport and already I am thinking of visiting Mexico and Colombia. You go girl!
Shea PowellMaxine Smith
Thank you so much Maxine. I love Mexico and Colombia.. Such beautiful countries. 🙂
This post almost made me cry. You are such an inspiration. Continue to be to best version of you Shea. I look forward to reading more of your posts and following your virtually around the globe.
Such kind words. Thank you so much Eva. 🙂